Happy birthday, TJ

Thomas Jefferson was born 260 years ago today in my home state of Virginia. Ten years ago, I spent the day at Monticello with the Virginia Glee Club, singing on the Today Show (and standing at a urinal next to Willard Scott, but that’s another story (and, speaking of other stories—Aven, if you have the photo of Stancil, Tyler and Scott holding Katie Couric aloft as she wears her VMHLB cap, I’d pay money for a scanned copy!)), before riding on a bus to Washington to sing at a ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial and shake Bill Clinton’s hand.

For those of you who don’t know who Thomas Jefferson is (e.g. apparently most members of the current Presidential administration and leaders of the Justice Department), he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, was ambassador to France, and founded the University of Virginia. Oh yeah and he was president too.

In the spirit of Jefferson, then, a few of his words:

  • “I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.”
  • “If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
  • “I have much confidence that we shall [Col 2] proceed successfully for ages to come, and that, contrary to the principle of Montesquieu it will be seen that the larger the extent of country, the more firm its republican structure, if founded, not on conquest, but in principles of compact and equality.”
  • “The government of a nation may be usurped by the forcible intrusion of an individual into the throne. But to conquer its will, so as to rest the right on that, the only legitimate basis, requires long acquiescence and cessation of all opposition.”
  • “Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.
  • “The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.
  • “It should ever be held in mind that insult and war are the consequences of a want of respectability in the national character.”

Oh, and check out this year’s winners of the Jefferson Muzzles awards, given to those who seek to abridge freedom of speech and press. This year’s awards included many of the usual suspects at this blog, including everyone’s favorite singing ex-senator, John Ashcroft—and the 107th US Congress, who passed the PATRIOT Act.